Labour Day in New Zealand

In New Zealand, Labour Day is a public holiday that’s observed annually on the fourth Monday in October. The previous name of this holiday was “8-Hour Demonstration Day” because it was a day to recognize and give credit to the trade unions who helped to normalize an 8-hour workday in New Zealand.

This day has been a public holiday since the turn of the 20th century, but several changes have been made to it over the years. Nowadays, it’s a holiday that’s always celebrated on a Monday, so that workers have a three-day weekend with which to enjoy their time off.

The History of Labour Day in New Zealand

During the middle of the 19th century, the 8-hour working day movement began in Australia and New Zealand. This movement can be traced back to a carpenter in the Wellington Colony named Samuel Parnell. He refused to work more than 8 hours on any day, which was unusual considering that many trade workers had to put in long, arduous hours.

In 1840, it’s reported that Parnell told a reporter that there are 24 hours in a day, so 8 hours should be for work, 8 hours for sleep, and 8 hours for recreation. This idea struck a chord with workers all over the colony, and by October of 1840, a workers’ meeting passed a resolution that affirmed that idea.

On October 28th, 1890, the 50th anniversary of this momentous event was celebrated with festivities including a fair and a parade. The government supported the festivities by giving public servants the day off so that they could attend. Many businesses also closed so that their employees could participate. This would lead to the holiday “8-Hour Demonstration Day,” a holiday that became an annual October celebration.

In 1900, the New Zealand government made it a public holiday but didn’t set a date for the celebrations. This meant that different provinces celebrated it on different days. Eventually, the Public Holidays Act of 1910 remedied this situation when they moved the holiday to the fourth Monday in October.

Observing Labour Day in New Zealand

This holiday is observed with parades, food, drink, fairs, concerts, and other events. People use the three-day weekend for trips and for visiting friends and family members as well.

Where is it celebrated?
New Zealand (National holiday)
When is it?
This year (2024)
October 28 Monday
Next year (2025)
October 27 Monday
Last year (2023)
October 23 Monday